Whenever I am asked how I learned to cook, it usually springboards into a full-fledged conversation about my (long-term) relationship with food. You’ll listen to an excited Stephen speak about the humble beginnings beside Mom’s side in the kitchen, to being forced to cook for himself during university, to his travelling and being inspired by some of the world’s best cuisines. Then you’ll hear of what could be deemed the (current) pinnacle of his culinary journey: his own food blog. So, what fuels my drive to cook? Glad you asked.
My Zen There are a few things in life that soothes me and gives me an endorphin rush at the same time. While running can be described as one of those things, some of my deepest logic and life-defining decisions are conjured up alongside culinary creations in the kitchen. Time seems to go at my own pace, by my rules. I am numb to the troubles of the world.
I am a Scorpio. There’s a constant need to be in control, whether I’d like to or not. In the kitchen I am king. It’s exhilarating to realise that you are the sole determining factor of the fate of the dish you are preparing. That you have the power to give purpose to a few ingredients and create something delicious, is quite an adrenaline kick. Well, for me at least. Cooking also puts me in control of my nutrition. Today I am MUCH more conscious of what I eat, and more often than not, you can’t tell what’s in that heavenly bowl of alfredo or that scrumptious burger. Sigh. It feels good being in control.
Rebel with a cause
With cooking, I can unleash the rebel inside (Remember, I am a Scorpio). When I cook I don’t rely on rules and recipes, but on instinct and impulse. Even if I draw on inspiration from a Food Network episode, what’s created in the end is distinctively and instinctively mine.
There’s no doubt that I love food. But funny enough, I am most-times excited about cooking food, rather than eating it. That I almost always lose my appetite after cooking a meal is even creepier, regardless of how hungry I was at the beginning. Nonetheless, it’s the process of eating and everything involved that fuel my love for food. There’s a symbiotic relationship between cooking and the rest of my passions. For example, I love to travel and experience different cultures. Cooking allows me to relive this the moment I decide to set foot into my kitchen. I can instantly be teleported to my time spent in Colombia by whipping up a fresh batch of salsa, or to my childhood by prepping an all time family fave of baigan choka (roasted aubergines) with roti.
I swear, there is no better feeling than watching your guests enjoy every last morsel you prepared for them. Every time I cook for friends and loved ones, I eagerly await their feedback. And sure as hell, I am going to ask for it if its not forthcoming. It usually is. But it isn’t solely for the enjoyment that comes from the countenance of a satisfied guest.
Cooking is a perfect avenue for me to display my affection and compassion towards others; it’s an outlet to share a part of me: my culture and heritage, my experiences and knowledge. Cooking is an act of love. The fact is I love to entertain, and what better way to do it than cooking? Friendships have been created and strengthened over many a dish; secrets shared over dinner wine; and memories indelibly etched in hearts and minds alike of meal time well spent. Good food, good friends, what else can a guy ask for?
Indeed by now, food – and everything related – is ingrained into my genetic (instinctual?) coding. It’s a part of everything me. It’s who I’ve become, and that won’t be changing any time soon. I’ve come to appreciate food and its journey from farm to plate. Cooking is but one way I get to explore my passion for food. Traveling is another. Writing (blogging), another.
What’s your reason for cooking?